What Is Ironman?

140.6 Miles… Anything is possible!

Ironman UK Training Bolton

An Ironman or Iron Distance Triathlon is 140.6 miles of Swim, Bike & Run. Starting with the open water swim, you cover a distance of 2.4 miles (3.9km) starting usually at 6am with a cut off time of 2 hours 20 minutes. Next comes the bike at 112 miles (180km) and a total cut off time (including the swim and transition) of 10 hours 30 mins. Once the bike is complete you have 26.2 miles to run the same as a full marathon (42.2km) and you must finish the whole triathlon in under 17 hours.

Training for a full distance triathlon, aka an Ironman takes a long time. Most coaches will recommend getting a few seasons under your belt before completing the iron distance challenge however each year, people decide to take on an Ironman with zero training before entering their card details, some don’t even own a bike! Kudos to them, and as Ironman the band states as their tagline “Anything is Possible”!

Personally I recommend completing a couple of years of triathlons before taking on an iron distance event because the training and technique developments you’ll have during your triathlon journey will help massively to kickstart your ironman training. Training hours can vary, but in the run up to your event you’re likely to be doing 12-18 hours per week depending on what your goals are for the event and what your swim, bike and run look like.

Off the shelf training plans are normally around 6 months in length so allow plenty of time to get started, the focus tends to be long and slow, it’s the only way to build the endurance needed to last 10-17 hours. Work on your weaknesses but also strengthen your strengths! If you’ve got the determination then there’s no reason you won’t be able to run down that red carpet, hearing those booming words, “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN”, many off the shelf training plans are good and work for a lot of people, the BeIronfit book is a brilliant book for general training. However, a bespoke training plan will help focus on your individual race, your specific strengths and weaknesses, and you’re more likely to enjoy training more and be more focused for your goals.

Ironman UK

Ironman UK takes place in Bolton and is renowned for being tough for it’s relentless climbs and tricky downhills. There’s a common joke that the bike is hilly, the run is hilly and even the swim is hilly! It starts in Pennington Flash, a lake in Leigh. The bike route goes up to make a triple loop around Bolton, however the bike ride has changed every year for the past few years. The run is 4 loops and goes through Queens Park and has a fantastic atmosphere before hitting the red carpet. FIND OUT MORE.

Ironman Wales

Ironman Wales takes place in Tenby and is arguably tougher than Ironman UK. It starts in the sea at Tenby which can be challenging with waves and the much loved jellyfish. The bike route has similar elevation to IM UK, the run is again 4 loops and has a greater elevation than Ironman UK. FIND OUT MORE.

Although the full distance triathlons are referred to as an Ironman, it is really just the brand name. There are many alternatives for Iron Distance Triathlons which are often cheaper and offer experiences that many triathletes argue are better than the Ironman brand. and Midnight Man.

Good alternatives are; Challenge Wales, Ultimate Triathlon in Whitchurch, Outlaw, Lakesman, The Northumbrian, Ironbourne, Odyssey and Midnight Man.

Training Plans

Get faster with a bespoke training plan

I am a qualified Coach in Running Fitness and Triathlon Coach and I’d love to help you get faster and smash your next event. Whether you’re looking to complete or compete, I can help create the perfect plan to get you upto the pace or distance required.

I have quite a holistic approach and like to give you training that lights a fire in your belly, workouts that make your heart sing! It’s my job as a coach to work with you and find out what makes you tick to bring out your best results.

If you would like to know more and think I might be the right coach for you Contact Me or check out my page on Running Training Plans.

Jen Coppock
Jen Coppock
run & Triathlon Coach
llangollen, North Wales